Members of the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) selected a new President and Vice President at its recent monthly meeting. Karen Kinlaw was voted President and Janice DelBello was voted Vice President. Both officers have been longtime members of the Corporation. Bradley Gardner had served as President but stepped down due to family and professional obligations.
Kinlaw said she is very proud of the steps MEDC is taking and promises caution in picking projects that benefit the city while remaining within the scope of what MEDC is charged to do. Another longtime member, and the longest tenured city council member, Melody Hanson, likes the choice of Kinlaw to lead the group. While acknowledging that Brad Gardner’s’ dedication and professionalism will be missed she feels Kinlaw’s years of experience will be an asset to the board. Hanson went on to say that the group is “looking forward to the projects we can finance once our funding levels are restored in October 2015.”
Hanson is referring to Manvel voters’ approval last May to return the full 1/4% sales tax allocation to MEDC. One half of that allocation had been temporarily assigned to the city’s road department to meet what was, at the time, a more pressing need of the city. Last May voters agreed that the city would be better served long-term with full funding of the MEDC, particularly in light of the city’s vastly improved financial condition as realized in recent years.
Current budget discussions show projected income in the next fiscal year (Oct 1 through Sep 31) to exceed $650,000. That is more than double what was budgeted and realized in the current fiscal year. Operating expenditures are conservatively projected at $44,750 and an annual debt service payment on the SH 6 infrastructure project will require approximately $90,500. The group enjoys a current fund balance approximating $1 million. With the additional funding anticipated, MEDC members debated future projects to help stimulate economic development in the city. Two projects were unanimously at the top of each members “wish list.” One was an upgrade to the city’s water plant and the other was the extension of water/wastewater infrastructure down the south side of SH 6. The water plant upgrade earned the top priority. With a projected $250,000 expenditure the city would realize an improvement to the plant’s capacity by replacing current pumps with larger more efficient “booster” units and will see the establishment of a water storage tank. The increased capacity will put the city in better position to service new development, including the hoped for retail and commercial potential along SH 6. The extension of the just completed water/sewer line along the south side of SH 6 would cost approximately $285,000 and would extend the infrastructure some 900 feet to the west, again opening up potential retail/commercial development.
Other projects remain in consideration. One is an extension of a sewer line east along Large Street from FM 1128 to its termination at Oleander. The preliminary projected cost is $160,000. MEDC will be sending letters to property owners on the street to solicit their input on the idea and to bring forward potential development that may be under consideration. A primary goal of the MEDC is to promote economic development. As it considers expenditures of taxpayer contributions, an important consideration is the return the city is likely to see on the investment. With limited funds available, the group strives to maximize the potential for job creation, infrastructure improvements, and increases in the tax base.
Two projects with considerably higher capital costs remain on the MEDC “wish list.” One is the extension of water infrastructure on the east side from the ProBuild site on SH 6 to the city limits at CR 99. With the recent acquisition of the chemical plant on the far east side and the plans announced for expansion and new development, that improvement could prove critical to realize that potential. Preliminary cost estimates for that project exceed $625,000. Another critical infrastructure need that will require a cost in excess of $1 million is an expansion or new construction of city waste water capacity. Current capacity limits the city’s ability to provide service to a large development, be it residential or retail/commercial. A small increase in capacity will be forthcoming to the city within a year resulting from the expansion of the city’s current plant to meet the demand for additional construction in the Lakeland subdivision. The MUD servicing the Lakeland project is funding those costs but it will likely be necessary for the city to finance additional costs to increase the city’s waste water capacity beyond what will be provided by the Lakeland MUD. MEDC would likely be called upon to help that effort, thereby decreasing the burden on city taxpayers.
The MEDC budget is expected to be finally approved at the September meeting. Projects contemplated by MEDC are not strictly determined until a public notice is put forth and public comments are solicited. The public is always invited to attend MEDC meetings which are held the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. Concerned and involved citizens wanting to impact the city’s growth are encouraged to consider becoming a member of the Corporation. There currently is a vacant seat with the resignation of former President Bradley Gardner. Contacting the City Secretary at Manvel City Hall will provide the necessary information for interested persons.